EDITORS' Pick April 29
Horace: Ode IV.12
National Poetry Month 2016

Letter from the Editors

Dear Readers,

We're sneaking into the act on this last day of our Poetry Month e-mail feature to thank our participating poets for pitching in with their selections and commentary in support of our annual spring fund drive: warmest thanks to all of you for your time, energy, thoughtfulness, and generosity!

And equally heartfelt thanks to all who have made contributions so far this year (not just during this campaign!) and to all who have taken the time to send notes throughout the drive: it all means a great deal to us as we plan for the next 12 months of Poetry Daily. Thank you!!

(If you've not yet made your donation, no worries—our spring drive doesn't end with our Poetry Month special feature, so there's still time for you to join the campaign!)

Today just a poem, no commentary, except to say once again, thank you all.

Warmest regards,

Don Selby & Diane Boller

Editors' Poetry Month Pick, April 29, 2016

Ode IV.12
by Horace (Quintus Horatius Flaccus, 65 BC –27 BC )
translated by Charles Wright

Already the winds of Thrace, spring’s attendant ecstasy,
Damp down the waves and the sea and swell the sails,
Meadows shrink back in thaw, rivers quieten their moan,
Lacking the winter’s melt.

The swallow comes back and builds her nest again,
Unfortunate bird, still grieving for luckless Itys,
Still bearing the endless shame of over-vengefulness
On her sadistic and lustful king.

Shepherds laze in the new grass and tend their sheep,
Playing their pipes and singing, delighting the great god Pan
To whom all flocks are dear that browse
The shadowy, green hills of Arcadia.

A season, in short, Virgilius, that raises a thirst;
But if you want a well-aged, robust Calenian wine,
Then you, my courtier friend, must pay your way
With equal value in oil of spikenard.

One onyx box of spikenard will buy us that jar of wine
From those in stock in the warehouse of Sulpicius,
A big wine that will expand the heart and work
Its wonders to wash your bitter cares away.

If such diversion entices you, come on
And bring the merchandise; but don’t come empty-handed,
As I’m not running a handout wet bar
The way your patrician friends so often do.

Seriously, now, put off all thought of cost and dallying,
Remember death’s dark burning, and while there’s still time,
Mix up your wise ways with a bit of folly;
A little foolishness is sometimes sweet.

Horace, The Odes: New Translations by Contemporary Poets, ed. J.D. McClatchy
(Princeton University Press, 2002). Reprinted by Poetry Daily with permission.

Don't forget! If you enjoy our regular features and special events like this one, please help us to continue in daily service to you and to poetry by making a tax-deductible contribution.